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After another season-ending surgery, Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley is back to square one: ‘It just didn’t work out’

It’s only Week 7, and the Ravens have already been hit hard with injuries. With All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley ruled out for the season after yet another ankle surgery, the hits keep on coming.

Stanley had been sidelined with an ankle injury since the season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday that it wasn’t clear if the injury was a setback from Week 1.

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“They haven’t really pinpointed when it happened,” Harbaugh said. “It just didn’t work out. I guess the best way to explain it. Ronnie is much more involved, he’s talking to the doctors.”

Harbaugh said Stanley’s target return date is next season, but there’s some concern whether the former first-round draft pick can regain the much-needed flexibility to be an effective left tackle in the NFL.

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On Tuesday night, Stanley went to Twitter to share his thoughts and said he’s dealing with mixed emotions about not being able to compete with his teammates for a second straight season. He said it’s been “mentally debilitating.”

Stanley’s ankle issues date to when he was considered among the top left tackles in the game. After being named to his first Pro Bowl in 2019 and just two days after signing a five-year, $98.75 million contract extension, he fell to the turf after another lineman fell on the back of his leg Nov. 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stanley returned to the field during training camp Aug. 9. For Stanley, he said it felt good to be back after he was close to having everything taken away from him.

“I mean, that injury, it’s not an easy thing to come [back from], especially [at] my position, needing all the flexibility I can get,” he said in August. “Anything could have happened.”

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Stanley played in the preseason finale against the Washington Football Team before suiting up in the season opener versus the Raiders.

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, one of Stanley’s closest friends, said it’s been rough for the left tackle. However, Stanley hasn’t let his situation affect his energy inside the facility. “He is still showing up, talking to the guys, giving tips [and] coming to games,” Humphrey said. “It takes a true leader to be able to do that.”

Humphrey watched Stanley’s rehab process closely. During vacations, Humphrey said, Stanley was working to get healthy.

“He was faithful with the rehab,” Humphrey said. “It sucks to see him go through that. We will be with him as a team and keep him close to our hearts as he goes through the surgery and recovery.”

Veteran Alejandro Villanueva, who was on the Steelers’ sideline when Stanley injured his ankle last season, has filled the void at left tackle, his natural position, in Stanley’s absence. The Ravens originally signed Villanueva, who played six seasons at left tackle in Pittsburgh, in the offseason to replace right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the draft.

“[Villanueva] has been doing a great job filling in for Ronnie,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “He’s been playing his butt off. He’s a grown man, he knows what he’s doing. And there’s gonna be a lot more playing time for him since Ronnie is on IR. That’s my guy but it’s all good because we got Big Al.”

The Ravens currently have 15 players on the injured reserve list, but that hasn’t slowed them down on the field. At 5-1, Baltimore has the best record in the AFC.

“We’ve obviously been hit by a lot of injuries,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “But you see the type of resiliency this team showed. Ronnie is going to be on the sidelines supporting us. I love him to death but he’s going to be there, helping those [offensive] linemen out like a great captain.”

Week 7

BENGALS@RAVENS

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9 Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Ravens by 6

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